Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards and snakes)
Habitat & Range
The fat-tailed gecko is native to the Sahara Desert and inhabits dry, arid environments. They can be found in savannahs, rocky hillsides, dry woodlands and riversides in West Africa.
Fat-tailed geckos have a variety of color morphs depending on their habitat. They have variable patterns of tan and brown on the dorsal surface, while the ventral surface is usually pink or tan. Their namesake is derived from their wide, ribbed tail. When fully grown, they are about 8 inches long.
Fat-tailed geckos are carnivorous. They generally feed on crickets and other insects as well as worms and grubs. They are able to store fat in their tail, which serves as an important energy reserve.
Reproduction & Lifespan
Fat-tailed geckos generally lay about 5 clutches of 2 eggs each, but can lay as many as 13 clutches in a single season. The sex of the offspring is determined by incubation temperature; males will emerge from eggs in temperatures above 90 degrees, while eggs below 90 degrees result in a mixture of males and females.
The fat-tailed gecko can live up to 20 years in captivity.
Fantastic Fact Phantom Prey
The tail of a fat-tailed gecko serves as a unique defense system. If the tail detaches from the body, nerve impulses remain in the tail and cause it to twitch for a few minutes. The predator will concentrate on catching the tail, allowing the gecko to escape. The tail eventually regenerates, but contrary to popular belief, only a small stump will regenerate.
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